Dems attempt to advance voting rights bill, but blocked by Republicans

Sen. Ted Cruz spoke against Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's effort to consider the For the People Act

Senate Democrats attempted to advance a voting and elections overhaul bill early Wednesday morning, only to be blocked by Republicans. 

“We have reached a point in this chamber where Republicans appear to oppose any measure, no matter how common sense, to protect voting rights and strengthen our democracy,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor of the signature For the People Act, according to CNN

The bill was put forth in an effort to put Republicans on record as opposing the sweeping legislation, which, it has been argued, is necessary to counter state-level efforts to restrict voting access. Eighteen states have passed restrictive voting laws in 2021 thus far in response to the Donald Trump-dispensed “big lie” that there was widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election. More states have pending Republican-led legislation to further restrict voter laws. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (left) attempted to advance the signature For the People Act voting rights bill, only to be blocked by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (right) of Texas. (Photos by Drew Angerer/Getty Images and Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz blocked and spoke in opposition of the effort to consider the For the People Act. “This bill would constitute a federal government takeover of elections,” he maintained. “It would constitute a massive power grab by Democrats.” 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell denounced the Democrats’ endeavor, saying, “Here in the dead of night, they also want to start tearing up the ground rules of our democracy and writing new ones of course on a purely partisan basis.” 

From the floor following the vote, Schumer said, “This chamber is going to take one more step in the fight to protect voting rights in the country.” He announced he would take procedural steps to ensure that “voting rights will be the first matter of legislative business when the Senate returns to session in September.” 

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, at least seven states have passed laws that will either expand officials’ ability to purge voters from the registration rolls or put voters at risk of having their names improperly removed. 

Three other states have passed sweeping bills restricting a broad range of voting activity: Florida, Georgia and Iowa. 

H.R. 1, The For the People Act, would expand voting rights, change campaign finance laws to reduce the influence of money in politics, ban partisan gerrymandering and create new ethics rules for federal officeholders. 

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